What you need to know about drone registration

- Hoping to get a drone for Christmas? The Federal Aviation Administration estimates more than 1 million of them will be given as gifts this holiday season.

If you end up with one under the tree, you will need to register it with the FAA. It only takes a few minutes and costs just $5, but what exactly are you signing up for when you register your drone? FOX 5’s Ronica Cleary started the registration process on the FAA’s website to find out.

After creating an account and providing her contact information, she had to agree to a handful of rules in order to register: 

  • You must fly below 400 feet within a visual line of sight
  • You must be aware of FAA airspace requirements
  • You can’t fly your drone directly over people
  • You can’t fly over stadiums or sporting events
  • You can’t fly near emergency response efforts, such as fires
  • You can’t fly near aircraft, especially near airports
  • You can’t fly under the influence

For violators, civil penalty fines can be as high as $27,500 per violation, with criminal fines up to $250,000, not to mention possible imprisonment. And even with such significant penalties possible, former FAA Chief Counsel Kenneth Quinn expects many will try to fight the registration requirement.

“A lot of the hobbyists are actually objecting and instructing their enthusiasts not to register. There’s probably going to be rampant noncompliance, particularly for younger folks who have what they view as a toy, but is actually an unmanned aircraft regulated as such,” said Quinn, an attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. "They really want people to be responsible and have some accountability."

You do not have to register your drone if it weighs less than 0.55 pounds, and if you register before January 21, 2016, your $5 fee will be refunded.

You cannot fly drones anywhere in the District.

 

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